Starkville Abner's closes amid company remodel

Abner's Famous Chicken Tenders closed on Thursday and the building is now for sale. Owner Abner White said he plans to relocate if he is able to find a smaller local venue. (Photo by Sarah Raines, SDN)
Staff Writer

Abner's Famous Chicken Tenders on South Montgomery Street has closed and “For Sale” signs are posted on the property.

A sign on each customer entrance reads "Closed: We are searching for new locations. This building is for sale…"

The Starkville franchise has been open for 18 years and the change comes as part of company remodel and rebranding move at the corporate level.

Abner White, the founder and owner of the chain of restaurants, opened the Starkville location in 1999. White started his first Abner's Famous Chicken Tenders in 1993 in Oxford. He said he opened the Starkville restaurant in 1999 response to many requests from Mississippi State University students who visited the restaurant in Oxford.

"It's pretty sad today to close this store after 18 years, and I just really appreciate Starkville and State and hope to be back soon," White said.

White said when he created his restaurant concept, he set certain standards for each restaurant to live up to, with no corners cut.

White said he travels often to visit his two teenage children in Florida, and it is difficult to manage and keep all of his restaurants to those standards with how frequently he is gone.

"The standards I set for Abner's just were not being met here, and we just let things slip a little bit," White said. "I think that we can close and regroup and start brand new in a new location. I think we can be stronger by doing that."

Another reason to relocate the Starkville Abner's is the venue size.

White said the Abner's chain of restaurants is currently in the process of rebranding itself and remodeling its restaurants.

The Tupelo and Oxford locations are remodeling this summer. However, since the Starkville location is larger than most quick-serve chicken restaurants, White decided to close down and relocate.

The Starkville location is a 3,600 square-foot building, but White said he would like to have something about 2,000-square-feet.

"This place was too big,” White said. “While we are getting ready to rebrand, I figured I would rebrand at a smaller location."

White said he hopes that Abner's can find a new location in Starkville and be open again sometime in 2018.

Abner’s also has locations in Brandon and Memphis.